Friday, May 16, 2003

In Which Our Peripatetic Author Takes A Moment to Ponder Hypothetical Postcards

I have left Bologna ("Famous," I was told, "for its wonderful food, its friendly women and its towers,") and I have come to Torino -- Turin -- ("Famous for being an automotive and industrial centre, and also for black magic, and dark witchcraft." "Torino," I was also informed, in one particularly felicitous phrase, "is where you go to have your fortune guessed.") (That's like Detroit, but with a New Orleans reputation, for our American readers, or like Birmingham with a Highgate Cemetery reputation, for our English correspondents.)

On the streets of Bologna they sold postcards showing 50 foot high friendly Sophia Loren lookalikes gazing down, in a sultry fashion, at the two towers of Bologna and, beneath them, some enormous bowls of tortelloni. I wonder if they will sell postcards in Torino showing black magicians guessing people's fortunes in an abandoned Fiat factory.

My hotel is, delightfully enough, situated in an abandoned Fiat factory, and is very pleasant. I'll miss Bologna.


I got to talk to about thirty or forty kids this morning, from about age ten to their mid teens, about Coraline. When they were initially hesitant to ask questions, I told them about the (adult) Danish journalists who, more or less to a man (or woman) were extremely scared and disturbed by Coraline, and were very doubtful that it should be allowed into the hands of children (and who very obviously did not believe me when I told them that kids simply do not seem to be scared by Coraline). I asked if any of them found the book scary.

That got hands going up. They said things like "It was really funny," and "You can't be scared reading it because Coraline isn't scared, and she is okay," and even "When I was given it to read, I was told it would be horror, but it was not horror. It was very reassuring."

I wished that the Danish journalists could have been there.